Is phone tracking legal in the USA?


Phone tracking is a sensitive process that can reveal a lot more information about you just than location tracking. Once your phone location is tracked, its speed, its path, its trip distance and movement can be tracked. Extreme cases may lead to identity theft, exposure to activities you are engaged in and privacy violation. Even if phone tracking can lead to serious privacy issues US government and Supreme court has not made a clear law whether phone tracking technologies are legal to use and sell or not.

Although there is legislation bill pending in Congress and California. There are four bills that are pending in Congress about phone tracking.

First Bill S.1212 and S.2168 describe that it is a federal crime to track and use someone’s geographical location intentionally. Some exceptions are:

    i) If one is agreed to him location tracking.
    ii) If it is connected with a criminal situation such as theft etc.
    iii) If it involves foreign intelligence surveillance.

The second bill is S.1223 that makes it a federal crime if a nongovernmental person or business is involved in providing services such as collecting, obtaining, or disclosing to a nongovernmental entity intentionally or tracking the geolocation of entity without its permission. Bill stops unauthorized disclosure of information to promote domestic violence and sale of geolocation information regarding a child under age of 11.

The third bill is H.R.1985 that orders Federal Trade Commission to adopt such rules and regulations that a user of the website, online service, online app, mobile app or device directed to minors to provide a clean and conspicuous notice in plain and understandable language.

Bill that is pending in California is SB761 which requires the adoption of regulations to require a person or entity doing business in California that gathers, stores or uses certain types of data to provide people with a method to the collection, use or storage of such information.

If we currently observe the circumstances, in absence of a federal law; each state has defined its own law for phone tracking. Some states do allow phone tracking without any warrants or court orders. These states include Nevada, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, North Caroline, Tennessee, Kentucky, West Virginia, Ohio, and Michigan.

Majority of states does not provide any information about phone tracking and there is not any binding authority. These states include Alaska, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Iowa, Missouri, Arkansas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Arizona, Wisconsin and New York.

Some of the states in the USA has made law for phone and location tracking, and a warrant is required in these states for phone or location tracking. These states include California, Utah, Montana, Minnesota, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

New Jersey, Indiana and Illinois have made it required to have warrants for real-time location tracking.

Few states like Colorado, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, and Delaware.

Florida, Virginia, and Maryland has still conflicting authorities.Therefore, it is more obvious to say that status of your privacy greatly depends on your location in the United States of America.

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